Swallow a balloon, and lose weight

It’s one thing to gain weight, and quite another to lose it Photo: Courtesy

Those of us who are overweight are faced with a lot of health problems. The list of weight-related diseases is pretty long and includes Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bony diseases and several types of cancers. It therefore goes without saying that maintaining an optimal weight is one way of keeping yourself away from several diseases.

But it’s one thing to gain weight, and quite another to lose it. Ask anyone who’s ever tried to lose excessive weight and chances are they’ll have a long tale to tell. There are diet pills, reduced caloric intake combined with exercises, and many weight loss programs like Weight Watchers. You’ll also come across surgical procedures which have been specifically developed to help with weight loss. The availability of numerous weight loss options tells you more still needs to be done to help some folk.

So in comes a novel approach for helping lose excessive weight. It involves swallowing a balloon. Yes, you read that right. And you don’t just swallow one, you swallow three of them. Once the balloons are inside your stomach, each of them gets inflated to hold a volume almost equivalent to a capful of water. They become the sizes of three small oranges. They then get left in your stomach for six months, and are then deflated and removed.

So how does this help you lose weight? As you can imagine, the balloons occupy a sizeable portion of your stomach. You are therefore left with a smaller space to fill up with food. You’ll end up eating less, consequently changing your overall eating habits, and losing weight in the long run. But you must combine the balloon effect with an exercise regime, and a diet program as well. Studies tracking the overall balloon effect have shown maintenance of weight loss for 6 months beyond removal of the balloons.

But the balloon is not suitable for everyone. It’s mainly for those with excessive weight beyond a certain limit, and have been unable to lose the weight with other measures. You’d also have to go through a check-list of various conditions that may preclude use of the balloon. Once the balloons are in place, you may notice some stomach discomfort and nausea, which appear to ease off within two weeks.

Is this too much just to lose weight? Well, it depends on individual characteristics. If you are able to contain your weight with simple measures, that’s well and good. If you have tried all you can, and just find yourself gaining more and more, then you must consider other medical options that may help you out. Your end goal must be to reduce predisposition to serious diseases that are associated with excessive weight. Even if it means swallowing an unpalatable balloon.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist